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Resume Basics

Building Your Resume

A resume is a document that markets your skills and abilities towards a particular job and will hopefully help you land an interview. Building a resume can be challenging, but it is essential in today's competitive marketplace. Employers will initially scan your resume for less than 10 seconds, so you need the document to capture their attention quickly. Student and Community Engagement will be happy to walk you through the process of building a resume and will review it for you as many times as you want. Listed below are headings you may consider including in your resume. Based on your skills, education, and experience, the headings may go in a different order.


Personal Information

Your resume should include your name (in a larger font), address, phone number, and professional e-mail address. Make sure your voicemail is professional as well.


Profile / Professional Summary/ Objective

One of these headings will be at the top of your resume and will serve as an introduction to the employer. Depending on your level of experience, you may choose to do an Profile or Professional Summary.

Profile - Used by someone who has a little bit of experience, it contains 1-3 sentences about your educational or work background that is relevant to the job for which you are applying.

Example: Recent graduate in Mental Health Technology with internship experience working with adult day services and the homeless population.

Professional Summary - Summaries are used by people who have been in the field for a couple of years or more and plan on staying in the field. In 3-5 sentences, the summary answers 3 questions: Who am I? What are my skills/ qualifications that relate to this job? Why should I be hired?

Example: Preschool Teacher with 10+ years of experience in a 4 star Step Up to Quality rated learning center. Experienced in creating developmentally appropriate lesson plans for 3-5 year olds; meeting and exceeding state guidelines for the classroom; serving on district-wide committees for writing new curriculum; and mentoring all new Pre-School Teachers (over 5). Awarded “Teacher of the Year- 201X”.

Objective -  This heading is not used much anyone for two reasons: (1) the cover letter states the objectives and (2) when applying online, your resume is submitted for a specific job. One exception to this rule is for resumes distributed at a career fair. Resume submissions at a career fair should include an objective as they are to a company for any open position for which you are qualified.  

General tips:

  • Tailor this section based on the job for which you are applying.
  • Do not use first person format (I, my, our, etc.).
  • Do not include ‘fluff’. This means any words/ phrases that would not have any real meaning or value to the employer. For example: Excellent time management and organizational skills that benefit an organization.

Skills / Qualifications

The Skills/ Qualifications section is oftentimes one of the most important sections of your resume because it outlines how you are specifically qualified for the job for which you are applying. This should include 5-7 bullets that demonstrate how you can do the job, and should be tailored specifically for each job (based on the position description). This is how you will differentiate yourself from the competition. Do not include subjective words that do not have a clear definition, like “good”, “excellent”, or “strong”. Only include measureable, specific, evidenced-based information.

For example:

Do not put: Good communication skills
Instead, write: Over 7 years of Call Center experience, both inbound and outbound calling.

Tips:

  • If you use a summary, you do not need a Skills section because your skills should already be outlined in your summary.
  • Include keywords and industry-specific information.
  • Always refer to the job description of the job for which you are applying when creating this section.
  • Stay away from characteristics such as "dependable", "team-player", "problem-solver", as it does not say anything special about yourself. Everyone thinks they are dependable Demonstrate why you are dependable.

Education

In the Education section, you should list all degrees/ certifications that you have earned. Include the name of the school, the city and state where it is located, the full title of the credential, and the date you earned it. If you haven’t earned the degree yet, put “Anticipated (Month, Year)”. If your GPA is a 3.5 or above, we recommend you include it on your resume.

For new graduates with little related job experience, we recommend listing Education in the top half of the page. If you have a lot of experience in a field and your education is related, you could list this section it at the bottom of the resume.

Example:

Sinclair Community College; Dayton, OH

Associate of Applied Science- Automotive Technology 2015

 

Tips:

  • Do not include schools that you attended but did not receive a degree.
  • Only list the date you received the degree, not the years of attendance.
  • Do not include high school information unless you did a Tech Prep program in a related subject.
  • If you have received more than one credential at an institution, you do not need to list the school multiple times. Just list the school and each credential underneath, with the date you received it or will receive it.
  • If you do not have much related experience, you can list the relevant classes you’ve taken in program to help an employer recognize what you have already learned.

Related Experience / Work Experience / Work History / Experience

This section can be named multiple things, based on your background. If you have experience (internships/ capstones/ practicums, jobs, or volunteer work) that is related to the field in which you would like to enter, you could have a Related Experience section and a separate Other Work Experience section. This would visually draw attention to the fact that you have some experience that relates to the job.

In the work experience section, you will want to include the company’s name, city and state, your job title, and the duration of time you worked there (month and year). You do not need to include the exact street address, zip code, or supervisor’s information.

When writing about your prior experiences, always bullet this information and start with strong action verbs in the correct tense (present tense for current jobs, past tense for past jobs. Do not use the –ing tense. When possible, focus on describing the accomplishments you achieved on the job as opposed to just basic job duties. Make this section as specific and measureable as possible, without being too wordy. Including numbers is an excellent way to add strength to your resume. Write your bullets in a way that demonstrates how your skills are transferable to the job for which you are applying. Never be vague, subjective, or make assumptions about what the employer might know. Include what was accomplished, the objective, or the tools used in as many of your bullets as possible.

Example:

Big Call Center - Dayton, OH                                                                            October 2010 - present

Senior Customer Service Representative (SCSR)

  • Received “Employee of the Month” Award in June 2013, September 2012 and May 2011
  • Contributed to a decrease in employee turnover by 20% in one year by initiating a mentoring program for new hires that involved additional trainings and observations of current staff
  • Answer up to 29 calls per hour, helping clients with billing issues, processing new orders and returns, offering product alternatives and updating account information
  • Train all new Customer Service Representatives that are hired on (approximately 50 since October 2010), provide feedback on performance during observations and answer questions
  • Have maintained a Customer Satisfaction resolve rate at 95% since October 2010. Resolve customer complaints by offering merchandise exchanges, full refunds and adjusting bills when appropriate.
  • Keep detailed electronic records of customer complaints, actions taken and end results in the POS system

 

Tips:

  • Spell out all acronyms.
  • Avoid words that are vague like “Responsible for” or “Oversaw”. Instead, choose an action verb that better reflects what you actually did.
  • Do not write in paragraphs.
  • Don’t be too concise. Putting “Assisted customers” on your resume does not give the employer a great deal of information about what you actually did.
  • The longer you were at a job, the more bullets you should have. Include as many relevant skills as possible. Do not leave jobs out if they are not relevant, because you will have a gap in your employment history. Include just 2-3 bullets for these jobs.
  • Your jobs should be listed in reverse chronological order.

Other Sections You May Consider

You may want to personalize your resume based on your background and what you think might be valuable to an employer. For instance, if you were applying for a Travel Agent position, languages you speak or countries you’ve visited would be good information to include on your resume. Here are some sections you may consider including on your resume:

Military Experience

Some people choose to be very descriptive here, while others choose to be more concise. We recommend putting at minimum your branch of service, rank at time of discharge and the number of years of service. Putting the actual years, you were in the service is optional. If the service time was less than 4 years and you were honorably discharged, we recommend you state that you were honorably discharged. You may also consider including your MOS and work duties, especially if it was in a related field to what you want to enter.

Example:

United States Army Infantry Section Leader4 years

Rank upon discharge: E5

 

Volunteer Work

Typically, volunteer work is looked upon favorably, even if it’s not directly related to your career field. Include where you volunteer(ed), the city and state, and the year(s) you volunteered. If it's related to your career field, you may choose to describe it like a past work experience with bullets and action verbs.

Example:

St. Vincent DePaul Homeless Shelter; Dayton, OH 2012- present

 

Accomplishments / Awards

If you have received accolades for your past work or educational achievements, you may consider adding in a section that highlights them. This section should only include accomplishments that are measureable and only if you have at least 3 bullets to list. Nominations for awards, Dean’s List, and general accomplishments on a job can also be listed.

Example:
  • Awarded “Customer Service Professional of the Year” in 2012 from Big Bank.
  • Increased profit margin 22% from 2013-2014 by expanding market share from 3 to 5.
  • Nominated for “Nurse of the Year” at Great Hospital in 2014.
  • Achieved a 3.9 GPA/ Dean’s List.

 

Languages

Speaking one or more languages can be a big asset in today’s global marketplace. List the languages you speak and the level of proficiency. Do not include English, as it is assumed.

Example:
  • Fluent in Spanish- reading, writing, speaking
  • Conversational in French

 


Is there another section that you think might be important to list on your resume? Feel free to add it to your resume! However, nowadays we do not list interests or hobbies on a resume.